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The Joy of Six: Cup Winners' Cup memories

Carl Zeiss Jena v Dinamo Tblisi (1981)

On the face of it, there is not much nostalgia to be found in the European communism which foisted upon the world a smorgasbord of repression, poverty and murder. And yet, humans being as they are, it’s impossible not to feel some semblance of pang for the spectacular sport which came with it; Georgia’s Dinamo Tblisi, for example.

The club was formed in 1936 when police, navy and army teams were merged. Forming part of the All-Union Dynamo sports society, it was sponsored by the Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs on the basis that improved fitness would benefit the secret police; isn’t modern football the worst. By uncanny coincidence, Dinamo then developed into a serious side, helped by the patronage of Eduard Shevardnadze, a renowned footballing romantic.

Tblisi announced themselves to the Continent in 1979, knocking holders Liverpool out of the European Cup in front of 110,000. And winning their domestic Cup then qualified them for a Cup Winners’ Cup notable for the presence of Real Madrid reserves – there following a 6-1 Copa del Rey final trouncing by, er, Real Madrid. Castilla CF were immediately eliminated by West Ham in what became known as the ghost match. But the highlight of the round was the tie between Roma and Carl Zeiss Jena, named after the optics factory in which its founders worked. Jena lost the first leg 3-0, but won the second 4-0.

In the last eight Jena eliminated Valencia, while West Ham were drawn against Dinamo; there they were awarded an epochal outclassing of shimmering, juddering brilliance. Jena then binned Benfica while Dinamo snuck past Feyernoord to set up perhaps the most unexpected and left-wing final ever played. A hearty 4,750 ideologues deemed it worth their time, and after 63 minutes the 1-3-3-3 of Jena led the 1-3-3-1-2 of Dinamo thanks to a sweeping move finished by Gerhard Hoppe’s majestic donkey flick. But the Georgians equalised four minutes later and clinched victory four minutes from time, Vitaly Daraselia’s brilliant solo effort snaffling the most contemporary of triumphs.



Friday 8 December 2017


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